The holiday season should be spent enjoying family, not emptying your medicine cabinet of headache-relief medication. A teen that knows every excuse in the book for doing chores is frustrating, especially this time of year when you could use some extra help. So, avoid the typical sigh and exasperated “I’m busy,” by assigning your teen tasks she’ll actually enjoy doing. Here are some creative ideas to encourage her to get involved in the holiday preparations and lighten your load.
“Scheduling is important so teenagers don’t feel put upon. Post a daily schedule of responsibilities in the kitchen. This way everyone knows what is expected of them and that there is an even distribution of work,” advise Caitlin and Andrew Friedman, authors of the upcoming book “Family Inc: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!).” It is crucial to work as a team.
“Consider bringing your teen into the family planning by discussing what needs to be done,” the Friedmans explain.
Ken Damato, CEO of DoughMain.com, an online site dedicated to educating families about organization and money management, agrees that teens work best when parents respect their ideas and opinions.
“The best way parents can encourage teens to have a positive attitude towards chores is by including their input. Talking with teens about what types of chores need to be done and which chores they enjoy can help make them more positive about the whole experience,” Damato says.
The Friedmans offer, “Most teenagers like to help cook. During the holidays, there is a lot of cooking to get done. Additionally, teens like to set up (not breakdown), so give them the job of setting the table.”
As a teen, Damato recalls that he liked everything neat and organized, so chores that involved rearranging and re-creating a space were good choices for him. After conducting in-depth surveys about teen chores, Damato’s staff proposes the following:
Holiday decorating. It’s easy for people of all ages to get into the holiday spirit when it involves setting up lights, decorating the tree, or simply wrapping presents. Because these chores are unique to the season, teens will be more willing to help out.
Donate or sell personal belongings. Teens can sort old clothing and sporting equipment and donate to charity. This emphasizes the importance of giving at this special time of year. Teens might also sell their gently worn items to a consignment shop and use the proceeds to purchase gifts for family and friends.
Incorporate technology. Teens enjoy using technology to help out at home. After the holidays, ask your teen to create a spreadsheet of your holiday card list (sent and received) — a big time saver! Teens can also help set up new electronics or game systems.
Still stumped for ideas? Suggest chores that match a teen’s likes and abilities so she will be more apt to help out:
• Crafty teens — make ornaments or fresh wreaths.
• Teen chefs — prepare dinner on nights parents are out shopping.
• Teen mechanics — change the oil in Mom’s car to save her a trip to Jiffy Lube.
• Tech-savvy teens — send digital cards or photos to friends and relatives.
• Licensed teens — newly licensed teens will gladly take siblings to activities or run errands.
• Camera buffs — set up and take the family holiday photo.
• Future vets — groom the family pet.
“My daughter’s favorite holiday chore is getting all the decorations ready for the house and baking “Peppermint Patty” holiday cookies that we give out to family and friends.”
Stephenie Dimase, Wappingers Falls, NY
“My teenage son shovels snow during the holiday season. Of course, he hated it until we asked him to build a snowman at the end of the driveway after he finished.”
Lauren Zorilo, Wappingers Falls, NY
Upcoming topic: Tips to help approach your teen about safety issues concerning sexual activity (i.e. how to say no, protection, personal choice, and safety).
Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer, columnist and author of the newly released book, “Lions and Tigers and Teens: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you,” available at Amazon.com and www.unlimi
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